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No confidence in CEO Hardy from Lorain teachers

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LORAIN — As many as 98 percent of district teachers do not have confidence in the CEO.

According to information presented by Lorain Education Association President Jay Pickering to the school board Tuesday, at least 323 teachers do not trust David Hardy’s ability to lead the district.

As few as eight teachers said they are confident in Hardy’s leadership.

Pickering conducted an anonymous survey of district teachers, garnering 331 responses out of the 471 educators in the district. He said more than 60 percent of teachers in each building responded.

He found similar results for the district’s leadership team, with 97 percent reporting they did not have confidence in those Hardy had appointed.

Teachers also reported they did not understand the CEO’s plan or believe the chiefs are qualified to lead the district. When asked whether they strongly disagree, disagree, are neutral, agree or strongly agree on if they understand Hardy’s plan, 59 percent responded they “strongly disagree,” and 23 percent responded they “disagree.” As for the qualification of the chiefs, 71 percent responded they “strongly disagree” the central administration is qualified, while 20 percent responded they “disagreed.”

At the building-level, Pickering found the results were mixed. At Helen Steiner Rice Elementary, 100 percent of responding teachers had confidence in their leadership teams. Larkmoor, Hawthorne, Garfield elementaries and Longfellow Middle School had close to 50 percent or more confident in their principals and deans. At the other end of the spectrum were the high school, General Johnny Wilson Middle School and Toni Morrison, Washington and Frank Jacinto elementaries, his data showed.

He provided a copy of the results to Hardy, and planned to send a packet to each of the buildings’ administration.

This was the first school board meeting the city’s Law Director Pat Riley and Assistant Law Director Mallory Santiago attended. The board’s attorney, Tony Giardini, also was present.

School Board President Mark Ballard explained the board is trying to get additional answers on House Bill 70, prompting the call to Riley.

Riley said the issues the board faces are complex, and his office will have to study the bill more closely as they are not experts in education law. He requested the board submit specific questions to him in writing.

A legal question brought up during public comment is what happens if Hardy closes buildings. Under Ohio Revised Code, unused school buildings must first be offered for sale to community or charter schools, before being offered to third-party buyers. Legal counsel suspected Ohio Revised Code would have to be followed even with House Bill 70 in place.

In January’s newsletter, Hardy stated under HB70, “underperforming schools may be closed and reconstituted.” He later denied any buildings will be closed.

School board member Tim Williams said if buildings were to close, dispersing property takes time, but the process is uncharted territory under the state takeover.

“House Bill 70 gives clear authority to a CEO, but … doesn’t mean communities don’t have a recourse,” he said. “And I think that’s where we as a community decide what’s best for our district and then we advocate effectively. And then we will use legal counsel, we will use public pressure, we will use every means necessary so we can protect our assets.”

Contact Carissa Woytach at (440) 329-7245 or cwoytach@chroniclet.com.

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